Pace of Play-
With two basketball teams playing at such polar opposite paces, whichever team can dictate that aspect of the game will definitely have a massive advantage. The advantage for this season lies with Sacramento due to their ability to impose their lightning fast pace of play on us back in October. We had no answers for their coming star De’Aaron Fox and his energy sparking the Kings at crucial moments down the stretch. This energy spread to the defensive end as well, where the Kings did an impressive job of running the Grizzlies out of their set offensive plays. Whether cutting off the screen or a feed to the post, the Kings managed to get hands on the ball often, leading to the fast breaks those young players thrive off. Look to see if Memphis can play at a preferred pace in front of the home crowd, and that starts with Mike Conley getting after Fox early. Conley understands he must put a body on him up at half court to prevent the lethal blow by Fox can put on nearly anyone. Preventing De’Aaron from breaking loose will be a huge factor in controlling the pace of play. I presume the Grizzlies will be able to do a better job tonight of slowing the game down to their liking, considering we are playing in the Grind House.
Gasol & Jackson-
While Sacramento does have offensive weapons in their frontcourt, the abysmal defense constantly displayed suggests the Grizzlies more talented frontcourt has the opportunity to take over. I know for a fact both Gasol and JJ possess the power to embarrass this entire King’s roster, and damn it I want to see it tonight after how the last match ended between us. Jaren’s play has only accelerated as the season has progressed, and Gasol has subtly silenced that offseason trade chatter. What better way to solidify to this city that the two of you can smoothly co-pilot this team’s frontcourt than destroying a young team on the home floor? If they can properly slow the pace, look for more efficient entry passes to both these two, and this will result in more baskets. Have you seen JJ’s post up skills? I have been nothing but impressed by everything this kid has put on the floor. What better way to solidify to this city you were the best pick for us than dominating Bagley on this home floor?